The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has been gathering data on charges of discrimination toward employees who are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgender for the past four years. LGBT discrimination has been a growing category among charges filed at the EEOC; in 2016 1,650 charges were resolved and $4.4 million were recovered by the EEOC on behalf of LGBT plaintiffs. And from the beginning of tracking of LGBT-related workplace discrimination suits, 4,000 cases were resolved, with a financial impact to employers of $10.8 million.  Yes, that is almost $11 million dollars and 4,000 cases over 4 years.

Many, but not all, states and localities have enacted laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation when hiring, promoting, compensating, or assigning jobs. The matter is complicated somewhat when the employer is a faith-based organization, in that faith-based organizations have certain legal rights.  But employers’ rights do not extend to discriminating against LGBT employees for employment benefits. They must provide the same benefits to LGBT couples that they would to other couples. Even if they simply refuse to recognize or accept same sex couples, employers may be creating a discrimination problem.

In July 2015, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled that discrimination by employers against same sex and LGBT workers as a whole was a violation of the Title VII of the Civil Right Acts of 1964, which essentially doesn’t allow employment discrimination of any form in terms of national origin, sex, religion, color or race.

The EEOC Top Ten

The top 10 employment discrimination charges handled by EEOC in 2016 were:

  • Retaliation: 42,018 (45.9 percent of all charges filed)
  • Race: 32,309 (35.3 percent)
  • Disability: 28,073 (30.7 percent)
  • Sex: 26,934 (29.4 percent)
  • Age: 20,857 (22.8 percent)
  • National Origin: 9,840 (10.8 percent)
  • Religion: 3,825 (4.2 percent)
  • Color: 3,102 (3.4 percent)
  • Equal Pay Act: 1,075 (1.2 percent)
  • Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act: 238 (.3 percent)

The percentages add up to more than 100 because some charges allege multiple bases.

As you can see, discrimination filings of various sorts number in the thousands, and they are costly to resolve. If you are concerned about making sure your business’s policies and practices are free of discrimination risk, please contact us for a confidential discussion. We can assist you with an audit of your current policies, and recommend best practices to help your business be both productive and profitable.

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